HKFP Reports Hong Kong Politics & Protest

The comeback kids: From district council election losers to Hong Kong lawmakers in 10 months

After the end of the occupy protests in December 2014, there were calls for protesters to go back to their local communities to continue the fight for democracy.

In November 2015, more than 50 fresh faces took part in the district council election. Eight of them eventually won – meaning many failed to win seats in the district level advisory body, which only has very limited power.

LegCo come backs

But two of them have made a comeback ten months later, grabbing a prize way more important than a district council position and becoming the city’s representatives in the Legislative Council (LegCo).

While the winners of the district council election were often decided by a small number of voters in a first-past-the-post system, the race for LegCo geographical seats is decided by many more voters. Each of the five large areas elects five to nine lawmakers using a special version of a proportional representation system, which benefits candidates with marginal support.

Yau Wai-ching

Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Cloud.

Yau Wai-ching, localist Youngspiration party

Yau, 25, suffered a bitter result in the district council election. Close to the end of polling, rumours emerged that she may be beating pro-Beijing lawmaker and district councillor Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong in the Whampoa East constituency.

It was not too far from reality. She lost to Leung by 304 votes – Yau got 2,041 votes and Leung received 2,345. A third candidate received 596 votes.

On Monday, Yau was once again ran a tight race, but ultimately finishing before political godfather figure Raymond Wong Yuk-man to win the last seat in the Kowloon West constituency. She received only 424 more votes than Wong, around 20,000 votes.

Baggio Leung

Baggio Leung. Photo: Cloud.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang, localist Youngspiration party

Like Yau, the new addition to the opposition camp picked a difficult fight in 2015. Leung challenged Yeung Hoi-wing, the apprentice of pro-Beijing heavyweight lawmaker Ip Kwok-him. He lost by 1,569 to Yeung’s 2,491 votes in the Kwun Lung constituency.

This year, 30-year-old Leung was originally in the third place of his party’s ticket in New Territories West, which meant it would be almost impossible for him to win a seat in the LegCo election.

But then the government barred localist Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous from running. Leung, who got more than 66,000 votes in a LegCo by-election in February, was expected to win this time.

Sharing similar political ideals as Edward Leung, Leung switched to the New Territories East constituency on the last day of the election nomination period, and became the so-called “Plan B,” or the substitute candidate.

With Edward Leung’s support, he won a LegCo seat on Monday with 37,997 votes.

Eddie Chu

Eddie Chu. Photo: Cloud.

Two other LegCo candidates who promote the notion that Hong Kong people should determine their own future beyond the parameters stated in the Basic Law constitution also won after failed bids in the district council race.

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, independent

Chu, a long-time activist, ran for a district council seat twice. He ran in the Pat Heung North and Pat Heung South constituency in 2011 and 2015 respectively, losing both bids to powerful indigenous figures in Yuen Long.

He tried again at the legislative level this year, running a campaign without resources. His funds were mostly raised by crowdfunding online. Chu encouraged donations of HK$999 so that supporters would not need to reveal their names and addresses as donors, under the existing election laws. He raised around HK$800,000.

An environmentalist aiming to protect Hong Kong’s rural areas, he did not print new street promotion banners, but collected old ones and recycled them with handwritten slogans. He also conducted some of his campaign on bicycle.

Up until the last few weeks of his campaign, he received low rankings in the polls, but as election forums and debates were broadcast, he gradually gained momentum and ultimately became the candidate who won with the highest number of votes in geographical constituencies.

Edward Yiu

Edward Yiu. Photo: Cloud.

Edward Yiu Chung-yim, independent

Yiu, a geography professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, challenged the chairman of the Southern District Council Chu Ching-hong in the predominantly upper middle-class Chi Fu constituency last year.

He was a resident in the Chi Fu area for more than ten years, and successfully increased awareness of environmental issues in the area by installing green engineering works to save electricity and reduce waste. However, he lost by 2,223 to 2,762 votes for Chu, a political veteran.

Yiu is also a professional surveyor. Unlike others, this year he chose to run in a functional constituency – LegCo seats for specific occupations – in the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape sector.

Although the sector was a stronghold of the pro-Beijing camp for many years, Yiu surprisingly beat incumbent pro-Beijing lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen by 2,491 to 2,009 votes.

The other candidate Bernard Lim, an architect and scholar who also has Beijing ties, received 1,235 votes. Lim may have helped Yiu to win by snatching votes from Tse.

Elizabeth Quat

Elizabeth Quat claimed she was in danger of losing her LegCo re-election bid. Photo: Facebook.

Honorable mentions

The following are former district councillors who lost in the 2015 campaign, but managed to become lawmakers this time.

Elizabeth Quat, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB)

Quat was a pro-Beijing district councillor between 2008 and 2015 in the Chung On constituency in Ma On Shan. Last year, she was ousted by the Labour Party’s Yip Wing.

Dozens of local residents and activists gathered outside her office to “celebrate” her defeat. Residents who joined the rally were happy about Quat’s loss, saying “she rarely comes to the district to serve residents.”

Champagne bottles were opened, party poppers were set off and people sang a classic joyful Cantonese tune by pop singer Paula Tsui.

But Quat has been a lawmaker since 2012. She was re-elected on Monday with the highest amount of votes – 58,825 – in the New Territories East constituency, likely due to her successful emergency appeal for votes.

Andrew Wan

Andrew Wan. Photo: Facebook.

Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Democratic Party

Party vice-chairman Wan, 47, was a district councillor in the Shek Yam constituency in the Kwai Tsing district between 2003 and 2015.

Wan lost his seat last year, claiming that his DAB opponent won because of vote-rigging.

He took a LegCo seat for the first time in his political career in the New Territories West constituency this Monday.

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The comeback kids: From district council election losers to Hong Kong lawmakers in 10 months